Late last year, Honda announced that it was pulling the plug on the e, its first dedicated EV, and a darling of the automotive press here in Europe. Even though everybody wanted to pinch its little cheek and praise its driving dynamics, the e was too expensive and offered limited range, so very few people bought one.

Now Honda is trying again with the e:NY1, a bigger vehicle than the e featuring a crossover-style body. After driving one for a week, I don’t think Honda is on to a winner, especially against talented rivals like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or the Tesla Model Y, also known as the reigning best-selling car in the world.

 

The e:NY1 is basically the European HR-V body placed atop Honda’s new e:N Architecture F platform. Honda wants to use the platform for 30 EVs it plans to launch by the decade's end. The platform is modular and supports front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive, but the e:NY1 features a single motor driving the front wheels, no dual-motor option, and just one battery pack.

To me, this feels like a model Honda haphazardly put together just to get something on the new platform out the door. The manufacturer couldn’t seriously have thought it was a real contender—in what is a very competitive segment of the EV market here in Europe—with the specs and hardware that it has.

The EV Basics

Honda e:NY1

Honda has given the e:NY1 a 66.8-kWh battery pack with a usable capacity of 61.9 kWh. That’s on par with most rivals, although some do offer an optional bigger battery for electric crossovers this size. Having two battery packs to choose between seems to be what electric crossover buyers want. Some would rather save on the upfront cost by getting the smaller pack, especially if they only plan to use their EV in town, while others need maximum range.

The battery pack is comprised of 96 lithium-ion cells, water-cooled, and can run at up to 370 volts. It powers a Vitesco Technologies 201 horsepower/310 Nm (228 lb-ft) permanent magnet synchronous motor.

When I picked up my press fleet loaner e:NY1 from the local arm of Honda, it had previously been fully charged, and it showed a range of 179 miles. That’s a bit off the claimed 256-mile WLTP range, but then a handy message on the big 15.1-inch infotainment screen announced that I could gain 28.5 miles of range if I turned off the cabin ventilation and heating.

This reminded me that the e:NY1 doesn’t have a heat pump, which would have made heating the cabin far more efficient. Thankfully, even though we get really cold winters here in Romania that can stretch well into March, outside temperatures were quite mild during my time with the car (around 55°F), so I could do without the conventional heating. My well-equipped Advance trim level tester had a heated steering wheel and seats, which sapped far less range, so I was fine just using them instead.

The e:NY1 is supposed to use 18.2 kWh/100km (or go just over 3.5 miles/kWh) to achieve its claimed range, but during my time with the car, I couldn’t get it any lower than about 20 kWh/100km, even with the fan turned off. With it on, it was using more like 26 kWh/100km (2.4 miles/kWh), which is quite far off what the manufacturer claims.

Charging speed in the e:NY1 is below average. Even if you hook it up to a 100 kW DC fast charger, it will only draw a maximum of 78 kW. That’s enough to bring the battery from 10 to 80 percent in around 45 minutes and add about 100 km (60 miles) of range in 11 minutes. Its onboard AC charger peaks at 11 kW, and it needs almost seven hours to get the battery from 10 to 80 percent.

Regenerative braking felt quite weak. You can adjust the level of regen via paddles on the steering wheel, but even in its highest setting, it didn’t feel like it stopped the car any quicker. This rate of regen deceleration didn’t warrant the brake lights to come on, and you certainly can’t one-pedal drive the e:NY1.

The Drive

Honda e:NY1

If you want to experience what 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 7.7 seconds feels like in the e:NY1 and you floor it off the line, you will be met with a lot of wheelspin even with traction control on. I’ve driven many other front-wheel drive EVs with similar levels of power and torque to this, but I’ve never experienced one that has this much difficulty putting its power down.

At full tilt the e:NY1 feels like a dog frantically trying to drag its ass on the ground. I’m not sure what the problem is here. It could be a tire issue, but my tester’s Vredestein Wintrac Pro winter tires aren’t known for their lack of grip, so they probably aren’t the source of the problem. It is something much deeper, likely related to weight distribution between its two axles, which seems off for a front-wheel drive vehicle.

Once it hooks up, though, it accelerates linearly to its top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph), but it’s not the kind of car that eggs you on to drive it hard. I only put it in Sport mode a couple of times over an entire week because I felt it didn’t make much of a difference, and it squandered its power off the line anyway.

It's quite comfortable, though, and this was easily the highlight of my e:NY1 driving experience. Yes, the suspension is very soft, and the vehicle exhibits pronounced roll through the corners and pitch and dive, but since it isn’t a car designed to be engaging, this emphasis on comfort seems suitable.

Driving the e:NY1 with its fan off and music turned down, there was a lot of whine from the motor coming into the cabin. This is not something I usually feel the need to mention in an EV review, but there were a few moments during my time with the car when the motor noise became annoying. And driving the car at highway speeds, the wind noise you could hear was more than in most other electric crossovers that I’ve driven.

The Tech

Honda e:NY1

Honda only sells the e:NY1 as a very well-equipped Advance model on most European markets. The UK gets a cheaper Elegance trim that does without the double panoramic roof, heated steering wheel, powered liftgate, and automatic parking system.

In Romania, the e:NY1 Advance starts at €51,500. That's $55,766 at today's exchange rate, but note that prices are not directly comparable across markets due to differences in taxes, sales structure, and purchasing power. Honda is also offering thousands off the list price in many markets, and that can certainly help sweeten the deal.

To Honda’s credit, it does come with a lot of kit. The 15.1-inch infotainment is standard, as is wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, and it gets a full suite of Honda Sensing safety systems that work quite well.

Driving the car on the highway, the Honda's lane-keeping system holds its lane well and is good at managing distance from the car in front. In one instance, someone unexpectedly pulled out in front of me while on the highway and the car did a great job braking to avoid it a fraction of a second before I could have reacted.

The e:NY1 also comes with a cross-traffic monitor for both front and rear, road departure mitigation, traffic jam assist, active lane change assist, and a lane change collision mitigation system. There is also a multi-view camera system that has a handy top-down perspective that helps with maneuvering in tight spaces.

The Verdict

Gallery: 2024 Honda e:NY1

As a fan of both well-sorted EVs and the Honda brand, I feel disappointed by the e:NY1. This can’t be Honda’s best effort at making an electric model, since in many ways it feels like a step back even compared to the now-defunct e (which I loved and will buy used one day despite its shortcomings).

Honda needs to do better in the future, and if the concepts that it’s recently shown are any indication, at least the design will be cranked to e levels of craziness or beyond. With plans to launch 30 EVs by 2030 and an announcement that it is diverting 62 percent of its entire budget to create them, there is still hope for Honda EVs, but it looks like we will have to wait a few more years for a good one to come out.

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